In poker, it is not just about the cards that you are dealt with. It is also about how you play those cards.
It is an undeniable fact that strategy plays a critical role in a poker game. However, there are many other factors that can affect the outcome of the game, and these factors cannot be predicted beforehand. This is why it is essential to stay focused and not let your emotions get in the way of your decisions.
There are thousands of books, blog posts and websites devoted to poker strategy. You can find dozens of ideas for how to play pocket Jacks in third position against a loose-aggressive opponent.
You will find fewer resources that deal with the mental state that is necessary to play good poker. These basic strategy guidelines are essential, but it is all for nothing if you can’t keep your head straight.
Don’t Let the Game Frustrate You
It has happened to all of us at one point or another. You have pocket aces and flop your set. Next thing you know some donk, with 34 suited, hits a flush on turn and wipes out 2/3 of your stack.
Don’t let the game frustrate you. You are not alone in this.
The first step is to remember that it has happened to all of us at one point or another. You are not alone in this situation! The next step is to take a deep breath and remember that poker is a game where skill matters more than luck does. This means that if you play well enough, eventually your skills will outshine any bad luck that comes your way!
The above-mentioned scenario sucks, but that’s poker. What happens next is up to you, if you get frustrated you will quickly lose your focus and start playing recklessly, even playing bad hands hoping to get even. Every player is susceptible to this, and it is important to be able to recognise it and if necessary just stop playing.
To break this dangerous trend, get into the habit of saying, either to yourself or out loud, “That’s poker.” When your straight gets busted by a flush, just say, “That’s poker” instead of letting yourself get caught up in the emotion of the moment. When you can say that, and mean it, one bad moment at the table won’t ruin the rest of your evening.
We all love to play poker at the end of a tough day or long week at the office. Poker is a great way to relax, but a bad idea when you’re tired. If you play when you’re tired or as a way to escape the problems of everyday life, that’s when you need to stop and assess your reasons for playing.
When you are tired, or using gambling as an escape, bad plays start to look good. You can convince yourself that raising with Ace-eight in early position is a good idea. Exhaustion can also cause you to miss the fact that your opponent just beat you on the turn. If you are considering playing poker, and yawning at the same time, save your money and go take a nap.
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has a saying that he often uses, “Don’t let your money get mad.” I think this applies to the poker table as well. Anger leads to rash decisions in all areas of life, and poker is no exception.
A rash decision in poker usually means pushing hands that you should have thrown in the muck. If you start a poker session while you’re angry, you will not have an enjoyable evening. So, make up with your spouse, decide not to worry about what your crazy boss did, and forget about the person who cut you off in traffic. You need to be able to block those things out and play with a level head if you want to have a good time at the tables.
It is important above all else to remember that poker is a fun game, but with the wrong mind set it has the potential to take away a lot of your money; money that you can’t afford to lose. So learn to enjoy poker, but recognise the times when you should be doing something else.